Sanjay Jha wades into Gehlot vs Pilot in Rajasthan, faults Cong for turmoil
Sanjay Jha, the Congress leader sacked last month as party spokesperson last month for his critical comments, on Monday sided with Sachin Pilot who led the Congress campaign in the 2018 assembly elections but had to settle as the number 2 in the Rajasthan government. “I fully back Sachin Pilot,” Sanjay Jha said, expressing support to Sachin Pilot who rebuilt the party during the years that he was Rajasthan Congress chief.
Jha, a familiar face of the Congress on television debates, was sacked as the party spokesperson’s post after a newspaper article that was severely critical of the party leadership.
His tweets came around the same time that the Congress, after several phone calls from the party leadership to Pilot, decided to follow up with a public appeal. Congress spokesperson Randeep Sdustaurjewala told reporters that the party’s doors were open for him. The Congress-led coalition has 125 lawmakers in the 200-member assembly. The majority mark is 101.
“Look at the facts,” Jha said, underlining that the Congress had reached its lowest tally of 21 seats in the 2013 elections when Ashok Gehlot was the chief minister. Sachin Pilot was appointed the Rajasthan Congress president the next year.
In 2018 - when Pilot had a lead role in the election campaign - the Congress ended up with 100 seats and more than halved the BJP’s presence in the assembly, down from 163 in 2013 to 73.
“One man slogged 5 years for it; Sachin. But who becomes the CM?” he said, crediting the Congress “spectacular single-handed comeback” in 2018 to Sachin Pilot. He also wondered if Gehlot, who had already twice been the chief minister, needed to become the chief minister for a third time.
To be sure, Sachin Pilot and his supporters had tried hard to persuade the Congress leadership in the days after the 2018 elections that the 42-year-old should be given an opportunity to run Rajasthan. But Gehlot had been unwilling to back down. Eventually, the Congress attempted a balancing act by giving Gehlot a lead role and convincing Pilot to be his number 2.
But the two clearly did not get along, particularly over the assessment in the Pilot camp that Gehlot had been trying to undercut him and appoint bureaucrats in ministries held by Pilot. A parallel campaign had also started within the party to seek Pilot’s removal as the Rajasthan Congress chief.